Maui residents say they were BLOCKED by barricades while trying to flee deadly wildfire
By Zoey Sky // Aug 31, 2023

As the fires quickly spread across Lahaina in Maui on Aug. 8, the sirens that were supposed to alert residents were not sounded.

According to officials, sounding the alarms would have caused more harm than good because they were meant for tsunami warnings. But residents argue that the alarms would have given them another 10- to 15-minutes to figure out what's happening and what they should do.

More lives would have been saved.

Lost time, lost lives

Nate Baird, who escaped from the wildfires with his wife and two children, said a 10-minute warning would have given them extra time to save more children in their neighborhood. Baird added that his children first alerted him to the wildfires. They told him that "the air smelled like s'mores."

Baird's neighborhood was full of children who were home alone when the fires came through. (Related: Maui wildfire kills at least 114 – already the highest in modern U.S. history, with over a thousand still missing.)

As Baird and his family tried to escape Lahaina to the south, he said that they got stuck because of barricades and a crew instructing people to turn back because of downed electric poles.

The crew was telling them to go back into the fires. Baird and his family ignored the orders and drove around the barricades.

At the time, no one realized how little time they had to evacuate. Even people like Baird, who had to escape from the heart of the fire, didn't understand how bad the situation was.

Baird said that they only had minutes to escape, and everyone in his family would have died that day if they had taken one wrong turn. He also said he ran into one of his son's friends at a mall, where they went to establish some sort of normalcy after the chaos.

His children didn't have a filter so his son ran up to his friend, innocently announcing that some of the other kids that they knew had died in the fire.

Baird said that the parents of those unfortunate children were at work and had left them alone at home. Nobody warned residents and no one knew just how quickly the fires would spread.

The people who tried to escape the flames drove on the only paved road out of Lahaina. However, a barricade blocked access to Highway 30, and many cars had to turn around and drive back into the danger zone.

Families that drove around the barricade survived. Unfortunately, those that did not most likely died. Reports revealed that many others were stuck "in a hellscape," with their vehicles stuck on a narrow road, surrounded by flames on three sides while the rocky ocean waves blocked the fourth side.

Sadly, some people died in their cars as survivors tried to run for safety because the roads were closed due to the fires and downed power lines.

While the detailed timeline is still unfolding, the gridlock caused by blocked roads contributed to the casualties. Maui County posted on Facebook at 5:20 p.m. on Aug. 8 to announce that the roads had been cleared.

Gridlocks and flames

Kim Cuevas-Reyes escaped with her two children by driving the wrong way to get past a traffic jam. She said the gridlock would have left them stuck there when the firestorm came.

If she did as instructed, Cuevas-Reyes would have been forced to tell her children to jump into the ocean, where they would be boiled alive by the flames. Otherwise, her family would have died from smoke inhalation and burned in their vehicle.

Many people among the missing are believed to be children. Since schools were closed on Aug. 8, the day the wildfires started spreading due to power outages, many children were at home alone or with elderly relatives.

Videos show power lines bending due to high gusts of wind, with fires starting when those power lines touched a dry brush and ignited it.

The number of people still missing is over 1,000. Because of the intensity of the fires, it is possible that many of them will never be identified. The town of 13,000 has been leveled by the wildfires.

Tragic stories include parents returning home to discover the charred remains of their children. One resident said they found a 14-year-old clutching the family's dead dog. A seven-year-old child was found burned to death along with his entire family in a smoldering car that was stuck on the road.

Governor Josh Green said that while he wished the warning sirens had been sounded, the sirens had not previously been used for fires, only for tsunamis. Green claimed that residents would have run up into the hills and the flames had they heard the sirens.

But a report revealed that at least one man who went into the hills above the flames survived. The man was even able to rescue others and pull survivors out of the rubble.

FBI releases list of missing people

Hawaii officials recently released the names of 338 individuals still missing more than two weeks after the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century engulfed Lahaina.

The list was compiled by the FBI and includes only those whose full names are known and who were reported missing by someone for whom authorities have verified contact information.

Steven Merrill, a special agent from the FBI's Honolulu field office, explained that the 338 names are "a subset of a larger list." There are still hundreds of other names that require more information.

Within hours after the list was published, the FBI received reports that about 100 people on the list were accounted for. Merrill said agents are still working to confirm the names.

The death toll from the fire in Maui is now at 115, but officials have warned that the figure could still rise.

Officials urged relatives to submit the names of those still missing and to provide DNA samples to help identify remains. The number of families that have provided DNA is lower than authorities had hoped, making their already difficult job more challenging.

Read more about the Lahaina wildfires and other disasters at

Watch the video below for a survivor's account of the Lahaina fires.

This video is from the alltheworldsastage channel on

More related stories:

Maui wildfires burn historic town of Lahaina, kill over 90 Hawaiians with hundreds still missing.

The Maui fires are highly suspicious: Here are NINE questions we should all be asking.

Ugly truth about Maui fires now emerging: government deprived Lahaina of water and emergency resources, resulting in TOTAL LOSS.

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